A close-up shot of fallen of autumn leaves carpeting the ground. (Contributed photo)

A close-up shot of fallen of autumn leaves carpeting the ground. (Contributed photo)

To rake, or not to rake, in Red Deer

Providing hibernation habitat for native insects

Leaving leaf-scattered lawns alone in the fall is a great way to support biodiversity by providing hibernation habitat for species beneath the snow, says Canada’s leading land conservation organization.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is calling on Canadians to forget the chore of raking in favour of helping native insects, including pollinators, and other backyard wildlife over the winter.

Todd Nivens, executive director of the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, agreed that there are plenty of benefits to putting away the rake.

“It’s great overwintering habitat for spiders, for ladybugs, for anything that might be able to survive between that interface between soil and snow,” said Nivens, who doesn’t typically remove the leaves from his lawn.

He said leaves act as an extra insulating layer between the snow and the ground, and they are a food supply for little invertebrates, like worms, that can survive in the soil.


Public gets close-up view of Red Deer River’s aquatic life

WATCH: Green cart program officially launched in Red Deer

He said leaves are good for water conservation.

“Leaves on the lawn, they hang onto moisture in the snow, and help release it back into the lawn in the spring. They are also hanging onto any moisture that’s falling before the snowfall.”

Leaves are also free compost, he said.

“Anything that doesn’t decompose, that isn’t worn away or eroded by melting snow or wind, it will get picked up by the lawn mower the first time you mow your lawn in the spring anyway,” said Nivens, who doesn’t cut back perennials until spring because they can be used as habitat.

Red Deer parks superintendent Trevor Poth said leaves are only left alone to decompose in city parks where there are tall grasses.

“On any of our manicured turf areas, we actually mulch the leaves in place. We don’t rake them. We don’t collect them. We run a mower over the fall months to break the leaves down, so they can actually fertilize the soil,” Poth said.

He said if leaves are not mulched, they can kill grass and create a mushy mess to clean in the spring.

“We always just encourage people to consider mowing and mulching. It saves an awful lot of work, and makes your lawn a little more healthy.”

Poth said with plenty of leaves still on the trees, city staff are still out mulching. Work will continue until enough snow falls that it doesn’t melt away.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Kerry Wood Nature Centre

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trail RCMP report three impaired driving investigations. Photo: Black Press file
New drunk driving rules allow police to impose tougher penalties immediately

New impaired driving regulations started on Tuesday

(Lacombe Express file photo)
Lacombe County holds the line on taxes

Staff hiring freeze planned for 2021 to make up for lost oil and gas revenue

Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a public health state of emergency Tuesday and sweeping new measures as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise.  (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta premier says hospitals stressed by COVID-19, more surgeries may be cancelled

EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta’s largest hospitals are at 91… Continue reading

A cleaner wipes a glass panel at Toronto's Eaton Centre Shopping mall on Saturday, March 21, 2020. The national statistics office will say this morning how much the domestic economy bounced back in the third quarter of the year. The Canadian economy suffered its worst three-month stretch on record in the second quarter as the economy came to a near halt in April before starting to recover in May and June. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Statistics Canada says economy grew at a record pace in third quarter of 2020

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the economy grew at a record annualized… Continue reading

Bill C-4 passed in the House of Commons to authorize new benefits for workers left jobless or underemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Tory MPs keep talking on assisted dying bill as clock ticks down to Dec. 18 deadline

OTTAWA — Conservative MPs are refusing to be rushed into a vote… Continue reading

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

(Black Press File Photo)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

Mike Miltimore, seen in Kamloops, B.C., in an undated handout photo, says the Gretsch electric guitar that a woman brought into his store is from 1955 and similar to one played by country music legend Chet Atkins before he developed his signature series of guitars. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Mike Miltimore
Guitar made in 1950s worth more than B.C. family imagined

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — When Renee Latheur decided to take an old guitar… Continue reading

Lewis Hamilton won the German Grand Prix after Sebastian Vettel crashed while leading near the end. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Hamilton positive for COVID-19, will miss F1’s Sakhir GP

SAKHIR, Bahrain — Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has tested positive… Continue reading

In this Dec. 19, 2019 file photo, the advertising label of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, shines at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Leaders of the OPEC cartel are meeting virtually to decide how much oil their countries should produce as the coronavirus stifles demand for fuel. They’re expected to extend production cuts into the new year in an effort to boost prices. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)
OPEC talks on production hit snag as pandemic clouds outlook

FRANKFURT — The OPEC oil producers’ cartel was to push ahead with… Continue reading

Vancouver Whitecaps forward Fredy Montero celebrates after scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Galaxy during the second half of an MLS soccer match in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. The Vancouver Whitecaps are hanging on to several of their young players and continuing contract talks with two veterans, including Montero. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Steve Dipaola
Whitecaps exercise options on seven players, ‘continuing discussions’ with Montero

Whitecaps exercise options on seven players, ‘continuing discussions’ with Montero

Toronto FC forward Pablo Piatti (7) cuts past Vancouver Whitecaps defender Ali Adnan (53) during first half MLS Canadian Championship soccer action in Toronto on Friday, August 21, 2020. Barring a new agreement, Toronto FC is parting ways with designated player Pablo Piatti. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto FC looks for new designated player, opts not to pick up Piatti option

Toronto FC looks for new designated player, opts not to pick up Piatti option

Hamilton Forge FC players celebrate their win over CD Olimpia's during Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2019 action in Hamilton, Ont., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. After a season that has taken it from Hamilton to Charlottetown, El Salvador and Panama, Forge FC hopes the Dominican Republic is the last stop on the way to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Forge FC just one win away from booking ticket to CONCACAF Champions League

Forge FC just one win away from booking ticket to CONCACAF Champions League

A police officer patrols near the Olympic Symbol being transported on a barge in the Odaiba section Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Tokyo. The five Olympic rings are back in Tokyo Bay. They were removed for maintenance four months ago shortly after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Olympic rings back in Tokyo Bay; a sign of hope in pandemic

Olympic rings back in Tokyo Bay; a sign of hope in pandemic

Most Read